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October 30, 2013
Another view: Public education must be a priority

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(October 30 -- by Kyle Glankler and James Beckwith, Special to The Bee)

Citing the pending departure of Jonathan Raymond, superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District, The Bee's editorial board encouraged the region's business and civic community to prioritize public education ("Region needs to re-engage around strong schools," Oct. 18). We agree, and we want your readers to know more about what is happening in this region.

The organizations we represent are among the many groups and public agencies involved in the region-wide economic development strategy known as Next Economy. Next Economy supports the value of education in shaping the workforce and business leaders of tomorrow.

All students benefit from a community that is engaged in education. Students thrive where businesses, parents and nonprofit organizations partner with schools. That's where NextEd comes in.

For more than 20 years, NextEd - formerly known as LEED, or Linking Education and Economic Development - has been engaged with schools throughout the region. NextEd's board of directors includes two dozen business leaders and top officials representing all levels of education.

As the education affiliate of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, NextEd has long been a leader in state and federal education policy. We supported Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's efforts to advance high school pathways aligned with key industry sectors and connected to postsecondary programs, and now - along with 20 regional school districts - we serve as Linked Learning pilot projects to develop and sustain a region-wide system of support for high school pathways programs.

In partnership with Intel, Aerojet, SMUD and others, NextEd manages a network of 40 schools in 10 districts, implementing a project-based engineering and bio-science curriculum called Project Lead the Way (PLTW). NextEd received a five-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to validate the effectiveness of PLTW. This grant allows us to provide technology and teacher training valued at more than $150,000 to each PLTW school.

Our recent accomplishments include serving as the intermediary between the Sacramento City Unified School District and the Gates and Carnegie foundations to help transform the district's high schools. And we recently held the annual Career GPS event, the largest program of its kind in California. Career GPS showcased careers and postsecondary options from 180 employers and exhibitors to more than 7,000 students from 70 schools and 29 districts.

There is more work to be done in the policy arena, in the classroom and in the community. However, the business and education leaders at NextEd are making progress. Please join us at www.next-ed.org.

Kyle Glanker is chairman of the NextEd board of directors. James Beckwith is first vice chairman of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

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